Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Cold

Posted: July 5, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , ,

cold husky

Today’s post is inspired by the word “cold,” which first led me to write this haiku:

I long for the days
When I curled under blankets
To keep myself warm

and then reminded me of one of the saddest scenes I ever read. I mention it farther down.

Inside the closet of his home office, Jack pulled his dog Whitey close to him, under a layer of three blankets and behind a wall of clothes and crumpled paper. The husky normally would have wagged his tail, but he knew how serious things were, too. The winter storm hadn’t let up in five days. The city had lost power on the second day. Jack wasn’t sure, but he thought it was getting colder.

“Let’s listen to the radio. Might cheer us up, huh?” Jack said. He wound a hand-cranked emergency unit. Jack had batteries in the house, but he wanted to save them in case he needed them. The wind whistled white knives outside. Jack clicked the radio on.

“…encouraged to remain in your homes. Do not try to visit neighbors or relatives if it involves driving. You will not get through. The roads are impassible. If you are walking, obviously, wear boots and multiple layers of appropriate clothing and get indoors again as soon as possible…”

Jack changed channels. The other stations were playing the same thing. “Tell us something we don’t know, right?” He turned the volume down. “Maybe they’ll play music soon.” He scratched Whitey between his ears. The dog huddled closer. No dummy there. Jack felt a thin brush of a draft on his face. He pucked his lips to exhale, and blew a thin, ghostly breath.

The radio finally switched to music. The DJ put on “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett. Jack sang along. He hoped he would sleep well tonight. The closet was the warmest space in the house. Fear and cold had kept him from sleeping well the past two nights. Even underneath all the layers, he worried about freezing to death.

Jack remembered the scene in the story “To Build a Fire,” where the main character thought about killing his dog to stay alive. He and Whitey had been friends for three years. Whitey knew how to sit and roll over. He understood “come,” and he understood “stay” when he wanted to. He mooched for food and was always in the way. Jack hugged him. “You and me, bud. We’re going through this together, whether we’re building a snowman in the yard or if FEMA finds us turned into a pair of popsicles.” Whitey lifted his head. He looked at Jack, blue eyes questioning. “Don’t mind me. Lay back down.” He rubbed between Whitey’s ears again and the dog lay back down.

Tomorrow he would have cold canned soup for breakfast. Whitey would have kibble. They would both drink slushy ice water. Jack couldn’t wait for spring, when he would brush off Whitey’s winter coat and they could throw the disc around in the park again.

Photo credit: “Kangos 2013 – Huskies” by gabri_micha at Flickr
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Shared under Creative Commons license

Get Out of My Face

Posted: June 24, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , ,

2404823725_fa55b91a68_z“Get out of my face!” Evan yelled. Mark got out of his way. You could count on Evan for a joke or some twisted attitude when track practice got going, but this was something different. Mark watched him stalk his way to the infield.

“What’s up his ass?” Mark asked Dave, the team captain.

“Dunno. He’s been walking around like that all day.”

“Did he break up with Audrey?”

“Don’t think so.”

Mark stretched. He felt springy today. Usually he couldn’t get his legs to unwind if he begged them. He jumped up, hopped up and down, and went to talk to Evan.

“Everything all right, dude?” Mark asked.

“Not right now, man,” Evan said. He didn’t even look at him. Mark looked toward the other side of the field, where Evan was looking. There was nothing there, not other runners, not even equipment or their bus.

“What?”

“Just… walk on, all right?”

Whatever. “Whatever.”

Mark jogged around the track to warm up. He took his time. When the coach came out he’d run them until they were ready to drop. Then he’d wish he’d sat on his butt and just waited for the coach to tell him to move. The track felt fast today. Cool air. You had to love early May. The rain from April was gone but it wasn’t hot enough to make you gag yet.

Mark had been friends with Evan since freshman year. They’d been a pair of misfits that nobody liked, who had running in common, so it became them against the world. It worked. They’d gotten their letters together, helped each other pass chemistry, and helped each other find dates for junior prom.

He started to jog faster. He slowed down. Cool your jets, dude. Plenty of time to run hard coming up.

Evan jogged past him. He cut in front of him so close that Mark had to either slow down or clip the back of Evan’s shoes.

Hell with this. Mark lengthened his stride a tick and ran up Evan’s back. The two of them stumbled.

Evan spun around. He stopped short of shoving Mark, but he looked ready to. Mark shook his hands. He checked Evan to see if he would punch him.

“Watch it!”

“Don’t cut me off!”

“Forget ‘cut you off.’ You could have given me stitches.”

“Then don’t cut me off.”

Dave yelled, “Hey! Knock it the hell off! You want to do laps? ’Cause I’ll tell Millsey you guys need to do a few.”

Mark and Evan looked at each other. Coach Miller wouldn’t be nice about it, either. He’d make them run until the sun went down.

Mark raised his hands. No mas. He jogged around Evan. Evan followed. He cut him off again. Mark was about to clock him but he saw the coach coming out of the gym, clipboard and stopwatch in hand. He’d have to dust him in practice instead.

Something normal for a change. I might see if I can turn this one into a story.

Photo credit: “20080409 Track Practice – 02” by Westmont Track and Field at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
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Can I Buy You Lunch?

Posted: April 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Romance
Tags: , , , ,
Can I buy you lunch?

“Seattle Smiles” by Santhosh Rajangam

A wave of bead-throwing revelers walked by the coffee shop. A woman sat down next to Kevin, wearing a pair of silver necklaces and a purple top. The waitress didn’t even ask. She handed her a coffee, cream and sugar. The girl lifted it to him in a toast.

“You’re a regular?” he asked.

She nodded. “I live upstairs. Where are your beads?” She spoke with a lovely, lazy brush of a Cajun accent.

Kevin pointed to his feet. A handful of beads and a bag of T-shirts and touristy gifts huddled under his stool. “I needed real food and something to drink besides alcohol.”

“I thought that was part of the fun.”

“Yeah, well. Can’t drink every day. I like the music scene, too.”

She smiled at him. The girl blew on her coffee. In Kevin’s dreams, it looked like a flirty imitation of blowing him a kiss.

He smiled back. “I’m Kevin.”

She extended her hand. “Meg.” Her hand was warm and a little callused. No nail polish. Kevin thought he saw dust. He gently turned her hand over to look at it. She didn’t seem to mind. “Chalk dust? Do you teach?”

“Sculptor.”

“Really! You don’t have any pictures, do you?”

“As a matter of fact…” Meg took out her phone and waved through her photo library. Kevin leaned closer. Meg’s eyes were dark blue, pretty like marbles. It felt like they were on a date.

“Here we are.” She turned toward him. Their shoulders touched. Kevin’s pulse jumped. “This little turtle and log are going on an exhibit down by the river.”

“That’s really cute!”

She swiped to the next one. “This is a bust of my neighbor’s husband, for an anniversary gift. I had to make it from memory. She says it’s perfect. Here’s what he looks like in real life.”

Kevin held his breath. “Wow. That’s really amazing. You captured the look in his eyes. His bearing. The quiet… dignity.”

Meg smiled softly. “Thank you,” she said.

They were close enough to kiss each other, if they’d been boyfriend and girlfriend. Kevin’s heart skipped a beat.

“Can I buy you lunch?” he asked.

Photo “Seattle Smiles” by Santhosh Rajangam
Used under Creative Commons license
No changes were made to the photo.

friend to cry toPost #9 of the “Dubrillion Burning” series

Jeana started around the bar. Sitting across from Jeana, a sky-blue Twi’lek turned, lekku fluttering as she did. It was Vette, Risha’s partner in crime in her early years and Jeana’s right hand today. Risha and Vette met each other halfway in a hug.

“Oh, it’s good to see you,” Risha said.

“You too. How are you holding up, sis?”

Raffa shook hands with Jeana. “Thanks for coming, Jeana.”

“Family is family.” She smiled and bowed at Bowdaar. “Noble warrior.” If dogs could purr, that was sound Bowdaar made. Then he hugged Jeana. She laughed. “You’re like a big old wolfhound we used to have back home.”

“What, I don’t get a hug?” Raffa said.

“You don’t remind me of my dogs,” Jeana said.

Raffa shrugged. Whatever. Vette and Risha finished their hug and the group of them made a circle. “Nice meeting place. Your idea?” Jeana asked.

“The most neutral port in the galaxy. Did anybody harass you for being Imperial?” Raffa asked.

Vette laughed. “Nope. I bought some new coolers for my guns and got a lead on a dig for Rakata artifacts on Jurio. How did you find it?”

“Everyone comes here sooner or later. If you’re a spacer, you learn about it. If you’re not, you don’t.” It was true. Raffa didn’t know a ship captain who hadn’t been here yet. He looked around. “Has anyone seen Car?”

Jeana shook her head. “We haven’t. I tried calling him before we left on a few different priority frequencies. There no answer.”

“Do you think there’s trouble?” Risha asked.

“With Car? Always. Trouble that he can’t handle? I doubt it. So… where shall we talk?”

Risha said, “We have a room in the superstructure. It’s for VIP’s only, special guests of the Port’s crew.”

“You must be on their Life Day card list,” Vette said, looking at Raffa.

Risha smirked as Raffa turned red. “One of them’s an ex-girlfriend,” he said.

“One of many,” Risha added.

“Hey, she came through.”

“You buying her a drink later?”

He grinned. “I do have a reputation to uphold.”

“And what a sterling reputation it is,” Jeana said.

Haider Ackermann black origami leather jacket

The hug got the top spot, but this jacket was way too cool not to make it into the post 🙂

They made their way through the ship to the main accessway, then identified themselves to two guards flanked by battle droids at the compartment that led to the upper command deck. One of the guards made a call on his comlink. A few minutes later, a woman came out of the hatch behind them. She was a little shorter than Risha, with short blonde hair and a scar across her right eye. The look in her eyes was far older than her age. She was dressed in a flashy, multicolored pantsuit with a leather jacket that would have looked appropriate on pop star. It was made of genuine gundark leather with what looked like, and probably were, platinum buttons.

“There he is,” she said. Beryl Thorne walked over to Raffa and kissed him. She turned to face the group. “And Raffa’s friends! Welcome!” Her tone dropped and she added, “Even you, Risha.”

“Come on, Beryl. You can’t tell me you’re not doing well. Though you do need someone to give you some fashion tips.”

“I’ll take your sour grapes as a compliment,” Beryl said. She turned, showing off her jacket. Raffa noticed pistols tucked in shoulder holsters underneath it. Beryl turned back to the group. “Your room is ready. Come with me.”

bar-fightPost #8 of the “Dubrillion Burning” series

Formerly a Hutt dreadnought, the ship had been modified to act as a moving way station for pirates, scum, and more savory types who were looking for a little privacy between worlds. Raffa had fallen under all three categories at one point or another, depending on whom you asked.

They walked under a graffiti-stained bulkhead as they entered the ship’s forecastle. The space had been converted into a docking area. The Comet was of three ships docked here, out of a possible six. Two other traders stood near one of the other locks, a human and a Kubaz, having a smoke while they talked in heated whispers. The Kubaz’s thick, anteater-shaped nose made his smoking look even stranger. Raffa ignored them. Risha gave them a nod. Bowdaar ducked under the bulkhead and snorted.

Behind the forecastle had originally been the spaces for the ship’s forward battery. This deck and the deck below it had been converted into a bar called the Quick Draw. Above and below those were private rooms. Hard, metallic Jadian rock pounded the walls. Pirates and spacers crammed the dance floor or sat at tables gambling and getting drunk with old and new friends.

Someone punched someone else near them. Not to mention old and new enemies.

The fight started to spill toward them. Bowdaar snarled. A bloodied Mantellian stopped his punch in mid-swing and held up his hands. His combatant did likewise. They moved away, then the bloodied one suckerpunched the first and they picked up where they left off.

“Can I offer you weary travelers a drink?” a bartender hawked at them.

Raff waved him off with a smile. No reason to be unfriendly.

They pushed their way through to the far side of the bar. The volume dropped once they were on the other side of the next bulkhead. The next area had been crew quarters. Now there were dealers in trade goods, legal and illegal. Blasters and other arms on the left, spice and contraband trade on the right. Deeper in, they passed a whorehouse and someone selling and repairing droids.

The next section was private rooms, 100 credits an hour. A Balmorran battle droid took payment and handed out keys. Looking at the shine on its claws and buzz blades, Raffa didn’t want to know what happened to people who didn’t pay.

“You’ll notice there’s no blood on the walls or the deck,” Risha said, reading his mind.

“100 creds an hour for peace of mind? I’ll pay that,” Raffa agreed. He nodded to a scarred Mandalorian wearing mismatched armor who stood guard nearby. The Mandalorian only stared back at him. He wasn’t paid to be friendly. There was a saying among hired guns: fear the one with beaten armor and beaten skin. They’ve lived to look that way.

They passed through more docking spaces, then went through one more bulkhead. Low thrumming vibrated through the deck plates into their feet. They felt it out the tops of their heads. Two decks below them was one of the ship’s reactors. Raffa loved that feeling. It was like feeling your own heartbeat, good and strong.

Bowdaar rubbed his arms and growled. He said he hated that feeling. It made his hair stand up.

They reached another bar, called Myn’s Dragon Lounge. This was where people went to sit back on Port Nowhere, rather than blow off steam. A genuine chanteuse sang smoky blues in the corner, while patrons played pool or chatted while they enjoyed the music. A mesmerizing blue and red neon dragon covered the far wall.

On the other side of the nearest bar, Raffa locked eyes with a woman with round, graceful cheekbones and dark brown eyes. Her blonde hair would have been shoulder-length if it hadn’t been clipped to keep it back from her face. She wore sleek, fast, black-as-night battle armor. They both started to smile as they recognized each other. They both remembered why they were here at the same time, too, and their smiles faded.

There Were Worse Places in the World

Posted: December 19, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama, The Line of Duty
Tags: , , , , ,

Ninth and final part of “The Line of Duty”

At 10:30, the radio crackled. “Mole, this is Hole, over.”

“Roger, Hole, over,” Criston said.

“Time to switch holes, fellas. Over and out.”

They both stared at each other. Believing it would keep it from being true. Jack set down the radio in the bottom of the ditch and shuffled over the edge. He jumped out first, hugging the ground as closely as he could. Criston tossed up his rifle with his right arm, then tried to heave himself up with only his legs. He almost cried out in fear as his back pitched too far upward, practically begging to be shot. With only the one arm for balance he fell sideways, onto the wounded arm. Criston bit back the sobs as the pain pounded all the way from his arm into his chest.

“You all right?” Jack asked.

“Go,” Criston said. “I’ll catch up. Move it.” He didn’t hear Jack’s feet on the ground. “This thing’s killing me. I’m too slow. You couldn’t drag me if you wanted to,” he added. Jack still hesitated. Criston glared at him and said, “I’ll be all right. Just give me a second.”

Jack nodded and started moving. Criston shifted his eyes to the direction his head was pointing. He noticed that the sky looked a lot like Erie’s. He felt really hungry again, now that he had time and enough of a chance to worry about it. Damn peaceful, even out in the middle of nowhere. The pain in his arm started to die down to the throbbing that it had been. He rolled over, slung his rifle over his back and started to crawl using his legs and his good arm.

Jack trotted in a bent-over crouch as far as the wire. He looked back every few seconds, each time waiting until Criston waved him off. He grinned. It reminded Criston of those faithful dog stories that his dad told him when they used to go hunting.

The battlefield never looked so unreal before. The moonlight reflected off the barbed wire and shiny, bare patches of earth. Any shooting was a few miles up the way, and that was just a potshot now and then. Pop. Bang, boom. Pop. Pop pop. Boom.

Jack was halfway through the wire by the time Criston reached it. The relief team from second platoon on their way under the wire. There were three. “Hey, Bill, you’re in one piece,” one said. He couldn’t tell who it was. Another said, “You guys are lucky–you get to leave now that it’s getting tough!”

Criston moaned. He didn’t know what to say. He did feel lucky, but lucky to be going back to the line? Yeah, he admitted it. Then, as the team was following the wire to the ditch, he called back, “Don’t miss us too much,” knowing that they would. He coughed while he said it; his swollen throat kept him from raising his voice. They didn’t reply, and he couldn’t tell if they’d heard.

It took about five minutes to make it all the way through. Criston kept snagging his clothes on the wire from trying to keep his tender shoulder out of the mud. Jack was already back in the line by then. Criston wondered if he should try to jog the rest of the way. He could tell by the trail that Jack hadn’t trusted the snipers that much. Criston decided not to, either, and crawled the last twenty yards. It was still easier to make it back than Criston had dreamed it would be.

The sergeant and Jack helped drag him back into the line. Criston looked at him. “Bill, it ain’t much , but welcome back,” he said. No one whooped or yelled. They offered smokes and whatever else they could. It was a lot of patting on the back and everyone had a grin that went ear-to-ear. Criston realized that it was probably the first time in the whole unit that one of the M.I.A.’s was crossed off the list and didn’t wind up on the K.I.A. list instead. He grinned along with them.

“You boys ready for hot food?” the sergeant asked. “We made it up special for you two.” They ate dinner in the dug-out in the trench, a hot onion soup with potatoes. He remembered once calling it creek water. After he and Jack gave the rest of the platoon a few stories the lieutenant ordered Criston to go have his arm treated. As he started for the communication trench, the one that led back into the lines, he looked at the rest of the platoon. He knew that he wouldn’t think so after a few days back on the line, but for now he decided that there really were worse places to be in the world than in a trench near St. Mihiel. Wherever the hell that was.

Old Friends and New

Posted: December 6, 2013 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Corri drove the truck back into the space port herself. Deck master Pyno laughed so hard he had to put his hands on his knees. He breathed deep sighs of relief. “Where did you find it?” he asked.

She pat her pistols as she climbed down from the truck. “Let’s say I had to use some duralon-coated persuasion with mercenaries in the badlands.”

Pyno rubbed his face. “Dear gods. Thank you. If that shipment had gotten off world, who knows whose hands they would be in by now.”

“Are you going to tell me what it is?”

“Military grade antivirals. They’re needed on the front line. How can I ever repay you?”

“That’s a good question.” Corri stepped closer to him. “I need transport, off world, for me and one other person. Someone who can keep their mouth shut.”

Pyno looked around to make sure no one else was nearby. He rubbed his jaw. “What kind of trouble are you in? Legal or criminal?”

“Better you don’t know. Let’s just say it would make our lives easier if no one knew we left. We’re short on time.” And funds, and ammo, and they were cutting into their nine lives. Corri gestured at the truck. “How many people did we just save, Pyno?”

“All right. I owe you big time. We all do. There’s a guy I know, my go-to for special cargo runs. Quiet. Trustworthy.” He practically whispered, “And I may be wrong, but I think his ship is cloaked.”

Corri grabbed his arm. Her fingers dug into it like steel pins. They’d been on the run for weeks. This could be the answer to her prayers. It also sounded too good to be true, but Pyno owed her something on the order of hundreds of saved lives. “Don’t lie about stuff like that,” she said.

“Swear on the Suns, may the Archangel strike me dead. He wouldn’t let me run a service check on this ship when he came in. He’s never done that before. But the deflector panels have power feeds twice as big as they need to be. The emitters are type four.”

Corri let go of his arm slowly, her eyes wide. Her heart pounded. “I wanna buy this guy a drink.”

Pyno said, “Come on. I’ll introduce you.”

Corri followed him to bay oh-three. The ship was your basic Courier-class free trader. You saw a lot of them in this sector. It didn’t look like much, but Pyno was right: those emitters were more powerful than a ship this size ought to carry. It looked like the engine was just overhauled too. If she didn’t miss her guess, it was Kaladian. This guy had more to him than met the eye, and he was taking pains to keep people from noticing. Corri liked him already.

A man in a synthweave jacket was doing pre-flight inspection on the starboard lifter. He looked about her age, maybe a little older, with stubbled jaw and messy hair that nearly reached his shoulders.

“Captain? I have someone I’d like you meet.”

The captain walked over like he’d known they were there. Maybe he did. Corri noticed holstered guns on both hips, and the fasteners were open. The captain had pretty, ice-blue eyes. “I think this is someone I’d like to meet,” he said with an easy smile.

Pyno chuckled. Corri rolled her eyes, but she had to admit she warmed up to him. Pyne said, “Captain Raffa Korsaro, this is Corri Asaria. Corri’s in need of… well, I’ll let you two talk.” He looked meaningfully at the captain. “Corri’s done me a favor, captain. The kind I’d normally ask you to do. Help her out, huh?”

The captain folded his arms. “I’m insulted you didn’t ask me, Pyno.”

“You were… eh…”

“Never mind. Got it.” Pyno excused himself. The captain turned toward Corri. “Pyno and I go back a long way, Miss Corri. He’s the man who helped me get my first shipping permit on this world, back when some of the local law, if you call them that, wanted to have me skinned. If he wants me to do you a favor, he must think very highly of you.”

“He said pretty much the same about you, captain.”

“Call me Raff.”

Corri repeated the story that she told deck master Pyno. Raffa listened. He put his hands on his hips as she got to the part about no inspections. The fingers of his left hand barely touched the butt end of one of his guns. Not a threatening move; more like a comforting one. She’d touched a nerve.

“What’s it pay?”

“You’ll have to take that up with the woman I work for.” There wasn’t much. Not enough to be worth the trouble.

He didn’t blink. “We’ll do that. I have a family and friends discount. Come on aboard. I’ll show you the ship.”

Raffa lead the way. The ship was clean and well-maintained. No leakage, nothing needing obvious repair. She saw armor dotted with pulse burns hanging in a work closet, probably to be fixed later. There was no smell of intoxicants, no off-color posters on the walls. A gaming table and a row of data disks completed the common area. Over the data disks, written in marker on a strip of duct tape, was the word “library.” Corri asked, “What do you read?”

“I’m a sucker for classics.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Yeah, I am. They’re mostly thrillers.”

She chuckled. “What kind of speed can you make?” Corri asked.

“Point four past light speed.”

“I only counted three reactor stacks. You’d need four just to make it to point three.”

“You counted my stacks?”

“I know more than just how to shoot.”

He smiled slowly. Corri could see tumblers turning, new doors opening behind those sparkling blue eyes. Yes, captain, I’m full of surprises. Raffa said, “Fair enough. Let’s go talk to my mechanic. She can explain it better than I can.”

They entered the engine section. It was a cramped space, covered with pipe work and the five pulsing hearts of the ship. A woman came around from between two of them. “Raff, glad you’re back. I—” She cut off. “CORRI???”

Corri’s jaw dropped open. Who she was seeing was still making its way from her eyes to her brain when the woman rushed to her and hugged her. Corri started to hug her, then hugged her hard. “Tish? Tisha Rayden???”

Tisha nodded without pulling back. They hugged each other harder, laughing and crying.

Raffa chuckled. He put his hands on his hips. “Well, I guess my mechanic approves of you.”

Tisha pulled back, barely. “Raff, this is Corri. Two-gun Corri, the Talovian I used to run with years ago.”

His eyes widened. “Your ‘kid sister’?”

Corri laughed and shoved Tisha’s shoulder. “You still say that?”

“Yes! I can’t believe it… what are you doing here? Who are you running with now?”

Corri covered her mouth. “I found a new ‘big sister.’”

“That’s so you.”

The cat was out of the bag. Raffa noticed her pause, and folded his arms as he waited for her response. All that Corri said was, “What you don’t know, Tish. Wait ’til you meet her.”

Dating Advice Between the Stacks

Posted: November 24, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dave and Lizzie lay on the floor at the library between stacks of old poetry books. They’d met in a poetry class back in college, and for some reason became good friends. They hadn’t seen each other in years, and Dave had happened to be passing through town. Lizzie worked at the library, so the other librarians didn’t mind the mess as long as they didn’t get in anyone’s way.

“Whatever happened with you and that pharmacist guy?” Dave asked.

“Still dating him.”

“Really! Good stuff. That makes it, what, three years?”

“Um-hmm. We’re talking about getting married.” Dave high-fived with her. “Maybe a destination wedding in Vermont, or the Caribbean.”

“You guys like to travel?”

“That way the in-laws stop arguing over where the wedding is.”

“Clever.”

She tapped her temple. “Always thinkin’.” Lizzie put down a book of eighteenth-century verse. “How about you? Didn’t you meet somebody while you were on vacation?”

“It was a Halloween party. Speech therapist in a flapper dress. She liked that I could swing dance with her. I met someone else while I was on vacation in New Orleans before I met her. She lived too far away, though.”

“Do you like her?”

“Let’s say she’s teaching me lots of new oral motor skills.”

Lizzie blushed. She kicked him. “Dirty. So the sex is good. Do you like her or not?”

“I like her.”

“But…”

“Remember the time you told me about your pharmacist, how the two of you finish each other’s sentences?”

Lizzie nodded. “You’re not soulmates.”

“Is that what it is?”

“It sounds like it. At least not yet.”

Dave closed a book on Lord Byron. The guy’s poetry was thick with love and romance, which Dave didn’t get at all. At least not that much. “So do I fish or cut bait?”

“That, young Jedi, depends on you. Is she a keeper or not? Or are you ready, or not?”

“What’s the difference?”

“Remember in college, when I was in love with that history major, but I just wasn’t ready for a commitment? He was a keeper, but I wasn’t ready.”

“Oh… got it.” Dave looked at Byron’s picture on the cover of the book. Maybe the good Lord B. could teach him a thing or two about romancing his jazzy dancer. “I’ll keep fishing.”

“Good for you. And stop talking dirty about her.”

“Hey, you went there, not me.”

Friends Are Friends

Posted: October 25, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , ,

Jackie and I lay on the floor in the middle of her living room. Two empty bowls that used to hold popcorn sat on the floor between us, alongside an empty bottle of wine (her), a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels (me), a half empty bag of Hershey’s kisses, and a several empty boxes of Chinese food.

“Well, thanks for listening,” I said. “I’ve come to the conclusion that relationships suck.”

“Pretty much,” she agreed.

“The worst part is, I knew that already.”

“Yeah, well. We all do. And we all go back and do it again when the next Mr. or Ms. Right shows up.”

“Yup. Why do we do that?”

“Because we’re stupid,” she said. I laughed. I hadn’t laughed hard in a while. Then I yawned, and she added, “Uh oh, someone’s tired.” She yawned, too.

I sat up. I grabbed her sock-covered foot – it was the closest part of her – and said, “Thanks again. Let’s clean up, and I’ll hit the road.”

I gathered bowls and bottles while she put away bags and boxes. Jackie was my downstairs neighbor. All things considered being equal, her apartment wasn’t as much cleaner than mine as you would expect. We had the same taste in tropical fish and sports teams, too. I wasn’t used to having girl friends as opposed to girlfriends, but hanging out with her tonight had helped a lot.

She walked me to the door. I said, “Look… if I need to talk some more, is it okay…”

“You know where to find me.” She patted my shoulder. “Friends are friends.”

We hugged at the door. I walked out, and kept walking when the door shut behind me. This felt right.

Figuring things out

Posted: October 8, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
Tags: , , , , ,

The morning after the meltdown, my friend Rachel met me at a coffee shop down by the beach. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah. I just… had a problem last night.”

“What kind of problem?”

“I don’t know where to start… God…”

“Is that the problem or are you having a hard time saying it?” I gave her a look that could have withered a brick wall. “All right. Sorry. Take your time.”

The waitress came by and gave us water. I ordered iced tea and Rachel ordered iced coffee. “A week ago I break up with my girlfriend. Last night I meet a new neighbor. Young guy, surfer dude. I thought he was cute.”

“Cute? As in…”

“Cute.”

“And that’s when you called me?” I’d left a message on her voice mail.

“Yeah. Sorry if I sounded freaked out. I was.”

“What did you do?”

“I walked for a while. When I got tired of it I went home. I couldn’t think but eventually I fell asleep.”

“Okay.” Rachel chewed her lip. “Have you felt this way before?”

“No. A little, lately. I think. I’ve wondered sometimes if maybe I’m gay.”

“That’s perfectly normal. Who wouldn’t wonder what they are? You have to ask questions.”

That didn’t help. I needed guidance. “I mean, what was it like, for you? You said you had a girlfriend once.”

She shrugged. “Back in college. Twice. It wasn’t really that different from having a boyfriend. Same issues. What movie do you want to go see. Where do you want to go to dinner. That thing you do is annoying. Girls were more interesting, guys had less drama.”

Sigh. I made a face. “Great. I think most guys are assholes—”

“Most guys are assholes.”

“Hey!”

“You’re not.”

“Well, is it because I’m gay, because I’m nice, or is it something else?”

“You’re you.” Rachel gently put her fingers on my head and shook it.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to shake your marbles back into place.”

“Funny.”

“Stop putting labels on it.”

“Fine.” I still didn’t feel any better. “Sometimes I think, that guy looks good, but when I try to imagine… y’know… fooling around or something… I think, whoa, whoa, stop. Not like that.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.”

“I wish I could give it a try. But without it getting physical. I don’t know.”

Rachel rubbed my arm. “Sounds more to me like you’re tired of trying to be someone you’re not.”

“What was it like for you?”

“I just gave it a try. My parents were hippies. I had gay uncles growing up. They were in the closet, but I figured it out as I got older. I saw how nice they were. I never had a problem with it.”

“How did it wind up?”

She shrugged. “I’m okay with both. That’s how I am.”

Huh. “When I was little, my mom used to say that I was cute. One day I see a guy on TV, and I said I thought he was, y’know, cute. I must have been six or seven. She got this look on her face, and she said, ‘Boys don’t think other boys are cute.’ It freaked me out. I’ve tried to ask myself, what did I mean when I said it? I don’t know.”

“Childhood sucks. Being an adult isn’t much better.”